New development: A new principle—the higher the position, the broader the view

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The Peter Principle, introduced over 50 years ago, refers to an organizational phenomenon where employees in a hierarchy are promoted to positions for which they are not well qualified (Peter & Hull, 1969). It has been a topic of debate and empirical research in organizational theory and management literature ever since. This article does not seek to prove or disprove the Peter Principle. Rather, it provides an alternative explanation of promotion within an organization based on employee experience. The research presented here demonstrates that the role inhabited by an employee greatly influences their perspective, which may change based on their location within an organizational hierarchy. In other words, people’s horizons depend on their place within that hierarchy. IMPACT: I offer a new principle, ‘the higher the position, the broader the view’, as a positive, productive perspective on promotion in contrast to the Peter Principle—‘every employee tends to rise to his/her level of incompetence in a hierarchy’. I arrived at this new principle through my recent experiences as the Republic of Korea’s Minister of Personnel Management. People often associate ‘incompetence’ with job-related tasks or skill competence, but near the top of hierarchies it is more about vision. In my view, ‘incompetence’ has many sources. I assume one source is a person’s failure to see the big or bigger picture as they move up the ladder. Even if my principle is not entirely novel, it does not deter me from calling attention to the myopia of people as they move up the organizational hierarchy. Thus, to reduce the Peter Principle effect, leadership development and merit-based promotion will yield better results.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Money and Management
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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